There were 124 new locally acquired cases of COVID-19 in the 24 hours to 8pm on Wednesday, with "at least" 48 infectious while in the community.
Wallsend MP Sonia Hornery said there had been a lot of fear and anxiety in the region since news of the Coles Express service station exposure broke this week.
"That had a lot of people fearful and worried," Ms Hornery said. "But it also confirmed to me my fears that we have people coming up from Sydney, with COVID, that could be infecting other people.
"They are posing a big risk to the community."
Ms Hornery said Premier Gladys Berejiklian had announced people from Greater Sydney could work within a 50-kilometre radius of the "outer boundary" of the Shellharbour, Wollongong, Wollondilly, Blue Mountains, Hawkesbury and Central Coast local government areas without having to undergo weekly surveillance testing.
"That means you could live as far north as Medowie and still be under that 50-kilometre radius," she said. "And, if you are travelling up from Sydney to work in Newcastle, why aren't you being tested weekly?"
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Ms Hornery questioned whether "loads" of construction workers travelling from Sydney to the Hunter to work was really "essential".
"I urge the premier to consider only allowing essential workers - that's people who are delivering essential goods and health services - into the Hunter, and that the rest of the Sydney people remain in Sydney until this outbreak is under better control," she said.
Ms Berejiklian has warned the impact of the harder lockdown in Sydney would not be reflected in the daily case numbers until at least the weekend.
But given the high number of new cases who were in the community while infectious, she was expecting the case numbers to continue to rise "even higher".
"It'll go up before it goes back down," she said.
They would know by Wednesday next week whether lockdowns and restrictions would need to continue. But the premier warned we would "be living with some level of restrictions" until more people were vaccinated.
A record 85,000 people were tested in NSW on Wednesday. NSW Health's Dr Jeremy McAnulty said there had been COVID outbreaks in two aged care facilities in Sydney, and another at a disability group home. There were 118 people in hospital, 28 in intensive care, and 14 requiring ventilation.
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